CONYERS - There was no stopping Deshaun Watson and the Gainesville offense Friday. Watson passed for 310 yards and six touchdowns and the visiting Red Elephants blew out Heritage 48-7 at Evans Memorial Stadium.
Watson added to his state-record career passing yardage total (he’s now at 10,296 according to Georgia High School Football Daily), in helping the defending Class AAAAA state champions move to 4-1 overall and 3-0 in Region 8-AAAAA.
Meanwhile, Heritage had its brief two-game winning streak snapped and fell to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in league play. It was the worst loss for the Patriots since a 29-point defeat at the hands of Rockdale in October, 2006, and the program’s first loss of 40 or more points since Marist won 64-7 in October, 1999.
“Just not good right now,” said first-year Heritage coach Mike Parris. “You got to learn from these, and that’s all you can do.”
Watson, who is committed to Clemson, appeared in just one second-half possession as his sixth touchdown pass of the night, a 32-yarder to Chris Williamson, made it 41-0 just one minute into the third quarter. Watson finished the game completing 26-of-30 passes.
Heritage didn’t reach Gainesville territory until a personal foul penalty by the Red Elephants got Heritage to the 46 with 4:00 to play in the third quarter. That drive would stall when C.J. Stone was stopped on fourth-and-one from the 26. With Watson long since having the remainder of the evening off, backup Mikey Gonzalez completed 8 of his first 11 passes before his last attempt was intercepted by Quentin Dixon and returned 71 yards to the Gainesville 27. Behind backup quarterback Kenan Johnson, the Patriots finally got on the scoreboard with three minutes to play when Johnson scored from 11 yards on a bootleg to make it 48-7.
It was much too little, much too late for Heritage.
“We’re not to their level right now and it showed. They’re a better football team than we are,” Parris said of Gainesville.
Heritage had the ball first and after six fairly uneventful plays, punted on fourth-and-10.
That’s when the Watson Show began for the visiting Red Elephants.
The senior, who is ranked as the class of 2014’s No. 23 recruit in the country by rivals.com, led an offense that wasted no time scoring five first-half touchdowns, putting the game out of reach well before the teams went to the locker room with Gainesville up 34-0.
Watson was 7-for-9 on the first offensive possession, finding Jay Gaudlock for a 12-yard touchdown to cap a 10-play drive that lasted just two minutes 41 seconds. Later during a one-minute drive, Watson had a 29-yard touchdown run nullified by a block-in-the-back penalty, yet on the ensuing play made his finest throw of the half, hitting Rodney Lackey in stride in the back end zone for a 31-yard score and a 14-0 advantage.
Sandwiched around one of four first-half Heritage punts, Watson led a seven-play drive that took just 1:37 off the play clock (Williamson caught the first of his touchdowns from nine yards), and the Red Elephants went 79 yards in two and a half minutes with Watson and Orrin Ragland hooking up for a 28-yard scoring strike that made it a 27-0 game.
Even the Gainesville defensive backs had an easy time catching the ball as Toddrick Turner intercepted Heritage quarterback Anthony Stanley late in the second quarter, and Watson had a 15-yard run that included him leaping over a Heritage defender, and was 5-for-5 through the air, including Lackey’s second touchdown catch from 29 yards.
Watson was 24-of-28 for 253 yards in the opening half, while the Heritage offense collected just 75 total yards.
“He’s got good players around him (but) he’s an amazing young man,” Parris said of Watson. “That’s probably the best offensive football team I’ve seen in 20 years. They’re pretty special.”